Immi: "There are big things to come from this team; 'online' comments do not affect us"

We caught up with NRG coach Ian "Immi" Harding ahead of IEM Sydney and picked his brain on his first months on the job as the team prepare for their first LAN tournament in 2018.

A former player of fm-eSports and endpoint, Ian "Immi" Harding turned to coaching at the end of February and has helped to revitalise NRG since taking the helm.

The North American team recently won the iBUYPOWER 2018 Spring Invitational and have qualified for four international LAN events, the first of which, IEM Sydney, starts in just 24 hours. After returning from Australia, NRG will compete at the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals, the ECS Season 5 Finals and at StarSeries & i-League Season 5.

Immi has been coaching NRG for two months

NRG have been drawn in a tricky group in Sydney, featuring three top five teams in the world including the current No.1 side, Astralis, who will be their first opponent. For the North Americans, attending the Australian event will be a special moment as they have not competed on LAN since the last Pro League Finals, in December.

Read on as we discuss with Immi his first two months as NRG's coach, the comments about his team being 'online', the preparation for IEM Sydney, and more.

What are your thoughts on these first two months as NRG’s coach? What has been your focus since your joined?

I am really enjoying coaching the guys, it has been a lot of late nights and hard work, but I could not have asked for a better group, and there's nothing more satisfying than seeing hard work pay off whilst doing something you love. NRG have been very welcoming, I have settled in well and am really looking forward to seeing how far we can go. We've been on a great run since I joined, and I hope we bring that form into the upcoming LANs and take in all the experience on offer this year. I really believe this group have everything to make it to the top.

The best thing you can wish for as a coach is to have a skilled team who just wants to improve with no egos, so, fortunately, my focus has been purely in-game. Communication is key to any team, so we started off with fixing minor details with that and moved on to our CT side, general setups and refining the fundamentals. A big part of my coaching has been our match preparation, which is something I’ve really enjoyed doing, and I think has really helped the guys in developing a game plan for what they want to do.

You are in a different timezone from the team. How do you manage that? What does your schedule look like?

At first, it was really hard to manage, but now that I am used to it, it is not a problem. With anything you enjoy, sacrifices have to be made, and I am sure once I move out to the team house then I can sort my internal clock once and for all. Currently, I wake up around 13:00, start to work on whatever I need to for the team that day, practice begins around 20:00 and I usually finish my day and go to bed around 05:00.

Do you already know when you will be able to join up with the rest of the team in the US?

My visa application is in the latter stages, so I’m hoping to be joining up with the team in mid-May, just before the EPL finals in Dallas. Thanks to Brett and especially Derrick for all their help on this!

This will be the team’s first LAN event since the EPL Season 6 Finals, in December. How do you see the players? Do you think they are eager to play on LAN?

The boys are all eager to play on LAN and to do damage. They have had to handle criticism in the past, but once we have some serious experience under our belts I think it will be just a matter of tweaking a few things. I have never been involved with a team like this before, where everything just feels right (maybe that’s because I came from the UK scene), but there are big things to come from this team, I can promise everyone that.

How is the team handling the comments about being ‘online’?

To be honest, it doesn’t really affect us, we just joke about it for the most part. We have seen teams be called "chokers" or "onliners" and go on to be the very best in the world. All we can do is attend these events with all the top teams over the next month, prepare, and play our best. The results will come.

Your team caught everyone by surprise with a great start to the season. What do you think that is the secret for the team to be playing at this unprecedented level?

There is no secret. It's about finding the right group of players and working hard. It’s not just myself who has been making sacrifices, everyone in this team is doing what they need to do outside of practice to improve their games and bring new things to the table, especially daps. This guy as an IGL has really impressed me, he works extremely hard to improve his team, and the work we all put in is starting to show.

In your first match in Sydney, you will take on Astralis, who are fresh off winning DreamHack Masters Marseille. Is this the worst team that you could get? How have you prepared for this match?

Astralis are the hardest team to draw at the moment, mainly because their map pool is so deep. Many will see our group as the hardest we could have gotten with 3 out of the top 4 teams from Dreamhack Masters Marseille in it [before Na`Vi pulled out]. We are still confident, we are ready and we hope to get some really good LAN results over the next month.

We don’t always have a game plan for specific opponents as sometimes the game plan consists of us just playing our own game because we have great belief in ourselves. Astralis have considerable experience and we respect them, but we don't fear them. We have prepared like we have for any other game.

How are preparations for the tournament going? What have you been working on?

We have been preparing the same we have all season. It's a little harder with so many events in such a short space of time, but we just work on everything we can within our game, and, if we stay on course and steadily improve, I honestly believe we can give anyone a good game.

What are the team’s goals for this event?

Counter-Strike is a confidence game, you have to aim to win every event, and I know the guys will be aiming high, but my goal is to secure as much experience as possible, and that means going as deep as we possibly can in the tournament. I will be happy if we get out the group in Sydney, considering it’s my first event as a coach and the team's first event together, but if we can get out of groups I genuinely believe we can challenge to win this event.

At the beginning of the month, CeRq was rumoured to be joining Cloud9. Was there some truth to it? What steps have NRG taken to fend off interest from big organisations in its players?

Rumours are not my strong suit, so I can't really comment on the specifics of this case. However, I can say that myself and NRG have worked to create a positive atmosphere and the players are responding well to it. I think our recent results show a team that is on the rise and these guys want to stick it out to show the world what they can do.

United Kingdom Ian 'Immi' Harding
Ian 'Immi' Harding
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
United Kingdom Tendies 
Good luck immi, nrg gonna kick names and take ass at Sydney
2018-04-30 12:45
nrg wins IEM Sydney 2018
2018-04-30 12:45
rearrange the letters to RNG
2018-04-30 12:50
2018-04-30 12:53
who? Pm me when this team becomes relevant xD
2018-04-30 12:55
you should get a core of asians/australians so NiP can qualify for majors again
2018-04-30 12:55
removes flair lmao
2018-04-30 12:56
Removed for IEM Sydney only as they are not at the tournament . Always NiP Forever #GONINJAS
2018-04-30 12:58
i like ninjas but you should be able to qualify this major dw #GONINJAS
2018-04-30 13:04
Yes they will with this lineup.
2018-04-30 13:07
infinity war reference...... nice
2018-04-30 12:49
Nut sack of a chin : Star Lord 2018
2018-05-01 05:56
Finland D3dust 
2018-04-30 12:42
2018-04-30 12:42
cajunb | 
CIS spk13 
online team eksdee
2018-04-30 12:42
Sf | 
Turkmenistan Autista 
I still don't why how orgs invest money into teams like nrg.
2018-04-30 12:43
Well you dont own a org, so what a randomer know anyway?
2018-04-30 13:44
Mongolia FoxOutOfGlocks 
UK CS xddddddddd, ez victory for NRG yes?
2018-04-30 12:43
Switzerland Alzameister 
nrg isnt even a uk team lul
2018-04-30 16:46
coach is from UK so UK CS x D
2018-04-30 16:48
United States mers_cs 
mongol cs lel lul
2018-05-01 00:09
2018-05-01 02:02
Upset coming up even though Astralis are the best team in the world right now. I can feel it.
2018-04-30 12:43
onliners confirmed
2018-04-30 12:45
NGR 4ever
2018-04-30 12:45
Online comments don't affect you? Fine then. UK CS LUL
2018-04-30 12:46
Poland neverbait 
2018-04-30 12:47
North America Firestar911 
2018-04-30 12:47
Austria I_love_Hltv 
2018-04-30 12:48
China chineseplayer 
2018-04-30 12:48
Uk cs omegaLUL
2018-04-30 12:50
onliners ez snacks onlan
2018-04-30 12:50
Aleksib | 
Denmark megz 
I hope they dont turn out to be the North American Space Soldiers
2018-04-30 12:52
Russia skipster 
NRG aka onliners Even worse than zywoo
2018-04-30 12:54
ZyWoo would win 1v2 against Ethan and CerQ easily
2018-04-30 12:57
Russia skipster 
I mean 'onliners level' ZyWoo is soo online
2018-04-30 13:03
I mean that as well
2018-04-30 13:09
France BoM_ 
2018-04-30 13:49
prove it first or it didnt happen :) if u can achieve, ego4u deserved, otherwise bb.
2018-04-30 12:57
Switzerland Alzameister 
prove it or i‘ll kill you
2018-04-30 16:47
Inb4 nrg naynays AST
2018-04-30 12:58
Goodluck ! I'm very very excited to see this team grow up big and start dominate half of entire 2018. Even a lot of people says that CS:GO is dying i believe with such a good confident speech from NRG team member they might be able to revive CS:GO glorious scene back it was before.
2018-04-30 13:01
With how dominate they've looked online, I feel like it would almost be unacceptable if they didn't make it out of groups.
2018-04-30 13:07
Idk man, their first match is AST so they would have to not lose any match after that in a stacked group. It's going to be hard for them that's for sure.
2018-04-30 13:15
sh1ro | 
United Kingdom Dave2303 
If they were in group A id somewhat agree but they've got mouz, astralis, fnatic and g2 (g2 aren't great but still) in their group so im not expecting them to get out the group but if they perform well there's always a chance
2018-04-30 13:18
I agree with that, and it'll depend on how they look against those teams. But with how dominate they've looked, I feel like moral victories are only losses. They should be competitive against the likes of G2 and fnatic (I also don't think this team is online either, and I pour one out for mosbeck weekly). If you consider the run (and results, or lack thereof*) Liquid had when Hiko initially signed (Fugly was on the lineup), I think this NRG lineup should even be past that.
2018-04-30 14:37
Twistzz | 
North America f^rax 
+1 btw it's dominant not dominate
2018-04-30 16:13
This is why you don't browse HLTV 15 minutes after you wake up.
2018-04-30 16:23
keep dreaming pal
2018-04-30 13:12
nice interview, good coach. Looking forward to good things! GL
2018-04-30 13:18
Ok onliner.
2018-04-30 13:21
2018-04-30 13:21
Tbh NRG has potential, i think we can see them in playoffs in Sydney
2018-04-30 13:28
Nice lineup they have got there, lots of talent.
2018-04-30 13:35
Russia VeryBlyatGuy 
this guy is from immortals, yes??
2018-04-30 13:49
gl Immi & NRG.. sound lad.
2018-04-30 14:28
Dev1 | 
Slovakia Trav1s 
every match i bet tehy lose ez money
2018-04-30 14:30
ez cerq
2018-04-30 14:36
ez cerq
2018-04-30 14:36
Nice read coach, gl hf NRG
2018-04-30 16:07
wippie | 
United Kingdom suge 
gl Immi, fly the uk flag
2018-04-30 16:12
Puls3 | 
World bigb1rd 
"I wake up around 13:00, start to work on whatever I need to for the team that day, practice begins around 20:00 and I usually finish my day and go to bed around 05:00" Guessing this dude has no girlfriend or actual friends if that's his daily schedule...
2018-04-30 16:40
United States drobotgamer 
Still makes more money then most.
2018-04-30 16:59
Puls3 | 
World bigb1rd 
He may make more than me but I have a girlfriend who I own a house with, an decent social life, lots of sleep and plenty of time to sit in my garden drinking beer in the sun.
2018-04-30 19:32
Croatia nAmeless69 
I am glad you're enjoying your life even if i don't know you :)
2018-04-30 19:40
United Kingdom mouzgalaxy 
its his fucking job lol
2018-05-01 00:50
Puls3 | 
World bigb1rd 
I realise it's his fucking Job. That's fucking entirely obvious from the fucking article lol. It doesn't make the hours any less shit or more acceptable and still means he won't have any normal social life or girlfriend etc, unless she's insane and likes to sleep from 5.30-1pm every day....
2018-05-01 17:07
2018-04-30 19:13
Europe KittyChamp 
this guy a internet coach or something?
2018-04-30 20:34
oh ok
2018-05-01 03:30
Nt u reading this hltv user
2018-05-02 10:25
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